Sunday, December 10, 2017

[Matt's Messages] "The Genealogy of Jesus"

“The Genealogy of Jesus”
The Gospel of Matthew
December 10, 2017 :: Matthew 1:1-17 

This is the first message in our new series which will be on the Gospel of Matthew.

I wanted to have a fancy schmancy title for the series like we did for Gospel Roots or the Truth of the Gospel in Galatians, but I haven’t thought of one for Matthew yet. I’ll keep working on it, but for now we’ll just call it “The Gospel of Matthew” which is exactly what it is.

Let me tell you why we’re going to study Matthew next.

It’s my brother’s fault.

At Thanksgiving while we were eating a delicious turkey dinner, I was telling my brother Andy that we were really close here to finishing our series in Galatians and the Gospel Roots series, and he asked me what was next.

And I told him I didn’t know.

I started to list the books that I have preached through in the last 19 and a half years. For example, I have preached through the Gospels of Mark, Luke, and John.

And I told him that I expected to preach a few messages about Advent and Christmas and then start something new in the new year.

I told Andy about having finished The Books of Kings at the beginning of last year and that I didn’t think it was quite time to go back to the Big Story of the Old Testament yet.

I said, “I just don’t know what the Lord would have me do next.”

And he turned to me and said, “Well, it seems like December would be a perfect time to start the Gospel of Matthew with the birth of Jesus and everything. And you haven’t done that one yet.”

And I’m like “....yeah, yeah, that would be a perfect time to start Matthew...”

And a few weeks later, here we are.

So if you enjoy the Gospel of Matthew, you can thank my brother Andy. If you don’t, you can blame him! I’m sure I will blame him at times as I’m writing messages! What are brothers for, anyway?!

The Gospel of Matthew is a wonderful book full of spiritual treasure. We are going to learn all kinds of glorious things as we study it together.

Matthew is a theological biography of the Lord Jesus Christ written, I think, by one of His very own disciples, Matthew/Levi. A man whose life was radically transformed by knowing the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus’s life, His example, His teaching, His amazing sacrifice on the Cross, and His Resurrection–Matthew gives us a marvelous, inspired perspective on all of these things.

It’s the most Jewish of the four gospels. It may have been written specifically to reach the Jews with the gospel. Matthew quotes the Old Testament again and again and again, and one of his favorite words is the word “fulfill.” There are like 60 Old Testament references in this book, and Matthew shows how Jesus fulfills them all.

This book has it all. Remember those parables we learned about at Family Bible Week? There’s tons of them in here. There’s also prophecy. If you enjoyed last week’s message on the Return of Christ, wait till we get to Matthew 24 and 25! And there are miracles, and there’s the Sermon on the Mount, and there’s the Great Commission, our marching orders to make disciples. And there is Jesus’ promise to build His church.

We’re going to learn so much about Jesus and how to follow Him in these sacred pages.

I’m really excited to get started.

And the book even starts out really exciting.

It begins with a 17 verse genealogy! 

Eh. I don’t know about you, but I don’t tend to get all that excited about genealogies.

They’re kind of “meh” for me.

My Mom loves them! I asked her a simple genealogical question yesterday about our family tree, and I got a long impassioned answer back with three attachments!

I don’t know how you feel about genealogy, but the Jews of Matthew’s day would feel more like my Mom does than like I do when they encountered the opening words of Matthew chapter 1.

“A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham...”

That would have caused them all to sit up and pay attention.

“Did you say genealogy?”

“About whom?”

“Jesus? Who is that?”

“Jesus Christ [or Messiah] the son of David, the son of Abraham?”

Those are big words!

Those are big claims.

We’re used to those words, but imagine being a first century Jew and hearing them for the first time.

“Who do you think this person is? Who is this book about?

By dropping those names, you’re saying that this Jesus person is ‘the goal and climax of Israel’s history’” (Craig Keener’s phrase).

You’re saying the Messiah has arrived, and He’s on the scene.

This week, my son Andrew turned 16, and we went down to the DMV for him to take his knowledge test to get his learner’s permit to start driving.

And the guy behind the counter would not take my word for it that Drew was Andrew Charles Mitchell, aged 16.

He wanted documentation. He wanted proof. He wanted his credentials to be presented. He wanted I.D.

This genealogy is one form of ID for Jesus.

It’s a presentation of his legal and royal and spiritual credentials.

A presentation that would have gotten the attention of a first century Jew.

It’s not arranged like we do genealogies today. It’s not focused on dates or chronology or shoehorning in all of the irrelevant data that he could find.

No, instead, Matthew carefully arranges his material and deliberately presents it in a highly stylized way to make his theological argument. It’s good history, but it’s history done a different way than we are used to.

It’s fascinating, when you study it, to see what Matthew includes and what he leaves out.

I mean, the genealogy in Matthew 1 is significantly different in places than the genealogy in Luke chapter 3. And they are both the true genealogies of the same man!

I used to think that it was because Luke was Mary’s genealogy, and Matthew is Joseph’s. That’s possible, but I think unlikely.

I think they’re both Joseph’s genealogy, but Luke’s goes through the biological DNA line and Matthew goes through the line of royal succession and then they meet at the end. (And there are probably some Levirite marriages in there, too.) They are both really good history, but they are tracking it in a different way than we are used to doing.

To get what Matthew is saying, we’ve got to learn to think like a first century Jew.

We’ve got to put ourselves in the shoes of someone who has been waiting a very very very long time for God’s promises to be fulfilled, God’s perfect king to come, and God’s salvation to be accomplished.

And for four hundred years, there has been no Scripture. No prophetic voice breaking the silence.

And now Matthew comes on the scene and writes, “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham...”

Notice in verse 1, that Matthew makes 3 big claims about Jesus.

He says that Jesus is:

- The Christ
- The Son of David
- The Son of Abraham.

And then he sets out to prove that, and really does in the opposite order.

Son of Abraham, Son of David, The Christ.

What I want to do is step down through these 3 kind of paragraphs or sets of genealogies and for each one, make one major point of application for our lives today.

In verse 17, Matthew is going to say that he’s given us 3 sets of 14 generations.

And that’s, maybe, so that we can memorize them. Like a mnemonic device. Or maybe he’s actually emphasizing something else by doing it that way which I’ll try to show you in a little bit.

But let’s take the first one (verses 2-6) that starts with Father Abraham.

And that’s interesting that Matthew starts there. Luke actually starts with Jesus and then works all the way back to Adam and God!

Matthew flows the other direction, and he starts with Abraham.

Remember Abraham? We’ve talked about him a lot this year in connection with the book of Galatians.

He shows up for the first time in the book of Genesis.

Abraham is called by God to leave Ur and to go to what we now call “The Promised Land.”

Why is it called that? Because God promised it to him!

Do you remember the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant.

If you know your Old Testament, the book of Matthew will make a lot more sense than if you’ve never read your Old Testament.

What did God promise Abraham?

Offspring, Land, and Blessing.

And the whole big story of the Old Testament is the long and winding path to see those promises fulfilled.

Isn’t it? Genesis. At the end of Genesis how many people in Abraham’s family? 70. How much land do they own? Just a burial plot. They are actually living in Egypt.

How much blessing. A little bit. A lot more to come.

God promised that all of the nations on Earth would be blessed through Abraham and his seed.

What did Galatians teach us about that?

Galatians 3:16, “The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say ‘and to seeds,’ meaning many people, but ‘and to your seed,’ meaning one person, who is...[whom?] Christ.”

Because Jesus is THE Son of Abraham:


He’s the One.

He’s the One through whom all of God’s promises will be realized.

That’s what Matthew is claiming.

Matthew is saying, “We’ve found the One that fulfills Genesis 12, and Genesis 15, and Genesis 18, and Genesis 22.”

We’ve been waiting a long time, but the Son of Abraham has arrived.

There are lots of sons of Abraham. But that’s not what Matthew is saying. He’s not saying that Jesus is a Jew. He is saying that Jesus is THE JEW.

And that all blessing is found in Him.

He starts to give the line. V.2

“Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,”

Those names should be very familiar to you. If they aren’t, go read Genesis again.

The promise is given, and it’s passed down. First to Isaac and then (not to Esau) but to Jacob, and then to all of Jacob’s sons.

How many sons did he have?  12. The twelve tribes of Israel.

But Matthew singles out one of them. Judah. Why Judah, why not Joseph?

Because it’s through the tribe of Judah that the ruler will come (see Genesis 49:10). The Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Do you remember a few years ago when we tracked that lion together?

It’s Jesus.

Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, then? V.3

“Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar...”

Whoa, whoa, whoa!

Hold up there. That’s very unusual. Back in that time, it was very unusual to include the names of women in a genealogy. You might include a queen or two. We saw that back in the Books of Kings.

But this lady dressed up as a prostitute to trick her wicked step-father into siring these twins to carry on her line and to carry on the promise.

You don’t see that very often in a genealogy.

And in the holy Scriptures, no less!

That’s different. Why do you think that Matthew includes this lady who (while not acting righteously was acting more righteously, according to Judah, than he was!)?

And she was a Canaanite!

Why did she make it into Jesus’s genealogy?

You know what? There are 5 women in here. Not just Tamar. And they are conspicuous.

Four of them are foreigners. At least 3 of them were sexually promiscuous and their children weren’t necessarily what we call quite “legitimate.”

In many ways, they were used. They were treated shamefully with very little representation and advocacy and basic dignity.

They probably would have used the hashtag “Me, too” were they on social media today.

These women are in the bloodline of the Messiah. And Matthew wants to show us that. Why do you think?

Keep following the line. V.3

Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, [We’ve gotten into the times of Exodus and Numbers now] Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab...”

Are those names familiar to you?

We’ve reached the books of Joshua and Judges.

By the way, Matthew is skipping lots of names. He isn’t trying to give you every single link between Abraham and Joseph.

There are hundreds of years going on here.

And that’s normal. The word for “father” or “begat” in the old King James English can also mean “grandfather” or “great-grandfather” or “ancestor.” It shows line-of-descent, not necessarily just one step in that line.

We don’t have a good word for it in English. “Was the father of” is the best we can do right now.

Same thing with “whose mother was” in verse 5.

Rahab the prostitute. Do you remember her from the book of Joshua?

She hid the spies. She believed in the God of Israel. She let the spies get away and they came back for her. And she became a part of Israel.

In fact, she married into Israel. Her descendent was an upright man named “Boaz.”

Remember Boaz from the book of...what?  Ruth. V.5

“Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.”

Now, before we get into David, let’s remember what Matthew is proving. All along, Matthew is showing that Jesus is the Son of Abraham par excellence.

And because He’s the Son of Abraham, He will be God’s instrument to realize all of God’s promises for Israel and for the nations!

In other words, Jesus is where the blessing is.

God is faithful. God always keeps His promises.

And He’s made some big ones. And sometimes it seems like they’re never going to come. You might be feeling that right now...

But those promises are all YES and AMEN in Jesus.

He will fulfill them all.

So this is a call to be patient and to, like Abraham, trust God and wait on His promises to be realized.

And believe that they have arrived in the coming of Jesus.

Don’t go anywhere else. Jesus is where the blessing is.

Now, this next set of genealogies is very important to Matthew.

This is where his telling of the story diverges from Luke’s and (to some degree) from 1 Chronicles, as well.

And I think it’s because Matthew wants to emphasize the royalty of Jesus.

He is the Son of David, par excellence.

In verse 6, David is called “King David.”

He’s the only one in Matthew’s genealogy to have his title listed. There are many other kings, but he’s the only one called “King” in this list.

And I think that’s important because in verse 1, Matthew made a big deal about Jesus being the Son of David.

In other words, He’s the King...of Kings!

Right? He’s the fulfillment, not just of Genesis 12, 15, 18, and 22.

He’s also the fulfillment of 2 Samuel 7.

Remember when we studied 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel a few years ago?

Sometimes we call it the Davidic Covenant?

That King David would have a descendent that would be the King that would reign over Israel perfectly? And have an eternal kingdom?

“Great David’s Greater Son”

Do you remember these? Thumbs-up or Thumbs-down from the Books of Kings?

They just had one job, lead the nation in covenant faithfulness.

How many were two thumbs up? Not very many?

How about David. Sometimes. But look at verse 6 again.

“David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah's wife...”

Matthew had to put that in there!

Bathsheba. Mrs. Uriah. David was a murderer and an adulterer.

That was the lowest point in his behavior, and it led to the lowest points in his life.

How about Solomon?

He was pretty good for a while there. Building and dedicating the temple. Writing those Songs and Proverbs, exercising that phenomenal wisdom.

But then he just about lost it. Marrying all of those wives. Bowing down to other gods.

I like to think he came back and that Ecclesiastes tells us the story.

But he wasn’t two thumbs up. V.7

“Solomon the father of Rehoboam [thumbs down, the kingdom splits], Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa, Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram, Jehoram the father of Uzziah, Uzziah the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, Amon the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.”

Those names should be familiar to you. We just went over all of them (and the rest that Matthew skips over) in 2016.

Like a broken a record.

So many thumbs down.

A few bright lights. A little thumb up every once in a while. Asa, Uzziah, Hezekiah, Josiah.

But so many thumbs down. And down. And down until the exile was inevitable.

But they were the kings! And where there is a kingly line, there is hope.

Do you remember last year’s advent readings and sermons?

They were based on Isaiah 11. The Trudes read it to us last week again.

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.”

Jesus is the Son of King David.

And because of that:


The exile will come to an end.

The book of Lamentations will be reversed.

His kingdom will come and it will last forever.

Isaiah 9!  “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.”

That’s what Matthew is saying with this genealogy!

He’s saying that the time of thumbs-down kings is over.

Because their perfect descendant has come.

When the kings are at their best, they remind us of Jesus.

And when the kings are at their worst, they remind us of why we need Jesus.

And Matthew says, “Here’s Jesus!”

The King has come!

And His rule and reign will be perfect.

He’ll reign in righteousness.

I long for that. Don’t you?

My personal application of that beyond longing for the return of the King is to submit myself again to His Lordship.

Jesus has all authority in heaven and earth. He says that at the end of Matthew.

And that means that I should act like it. I should obey everything that He has commanded of me.

Because His reign and rule are perfect. I can’t go wrong by following Him. It’s always the right thing to do.

Repentance and redirection in submission is always appropriate before the King of Kings.

Skip down to verse 17. I want to show you one other thing about Jesus being the Son of David. Verse 17 says, “Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ.”

Now, I always thought that meant that he was saying that’s all the generations there were. But he’s actually saying that’s all of the generations I’ve listing for you in each of those 3 eras.

He’s saying, did you catch how I did that? I selected 14 generations. That’s 7 times 2. A doubled perfect, and there is three of them. So much perfection. Perfection is on the way.

And those three eras? From the Abrahmic Promises to the Davidic Promises, to when it all fell apart, to when Jesus came to put it all back together.

He’s saying, “Now it’s show time!”

And there might be another hidden message there. I don’t believe in very many hidden messages in the Bible. I think God put them all right there in plain sight.

But I also think that the first readers would catch subtle stuff, too.

Like the fact that in Hebrew, letters have a numerical value, and the number 14 is the numerical value of the name....want to guess?  DAVID.

And which is the fourteenth name in Matthew’s genealogy?  King David.

Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.

Jesus is the Son of David. And because of that, He will rule all of God’s kingdom forever.

One last set. Verses 12 through 16.

See if you know any of these names.

“After the exile to Babylon: Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, Abiud the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, Azor the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, Akim the father of Eliud, Eliud the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.”

Most of those names don’t appear anywhere else in Scripture.

Some of you know Shealtiel and Zerubbabel.

Zerubbabel rebuilt the rubb-ible when they came back from the exile.

Most of the men from verse 12 through 15 are unknown to us.

There was no Scripture being written during their lifetimes.

God was silent. The Old Testament was over, and the New had not yet come.

But God was still at work.

Quietly. Very very quietly.

A man named Joseph got married to a woman named Mary and adopted her son.

We’re going to learn next week that before they every came together, she was found to be pregnant.

The word “whom” in verse 16 is feminine.

Jesus was born of Mary, but not of Joseph.

He was the husband of Mary but not the biological father of Jesus.

He was the adoptive father of Jesus.

The legal father of Jesus.

And all of these men who came before him lent their Abrahamic and Davidic lines of succession to him.

And this One was born, Jesus.

Born of a virgin.

Another woman in the genealogy!

But not a promiscuous one. A pure one.

She had never laid a man and yet she gave birth to a son.

The son of Father Abraham.

The son of King David. V.16

“Who is called Christ.”

And because He is the Christ:


That’s what "Christ" means.

It means “Messiah” or “Anointed One.”

It means the Rescuer, the Redeemer that was promised.

Jesus is the Christ!

I believe that Matthew shows us whom Jesus is from to show us whom Jesus is for.

I read a tweet this week from Pastor Sam Allberry.

He says, “Matthew’s genealogy includes the outcast, scandalous, and foreigner. The family Jesus comes from anticipates the family he has come for."

That’s why the women are in there.
That’s why the Gentiles are in there.
That’s why the notorious sinners are in there.
That’s why there are people in there that nobody has ever heard of.

Because Jesus came for the unexpected.
Jesus came for the unlikely.
Jesus came for the unknown.
Jesus came for the undeserving.

Jesus came to redeem the lost.

Remember Galatians 3:28? “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

Doesn’t matter who you are.

Doesn’t matter whether the world values you or not.

Doesn’t matter if you pretended to be a prostitute or you were a prostitute or you went to visit a prostitute or you killed a woman’s first husband.

Doesn’t matter if you are from this nation or that nation.

Doesn’t matter if you are a natural born citizen or an immigrant.

Doesn’t matter if you’ve been thumbs up or thumbs down.

Jesus has come to rescue you.

That’s what Matthew is saying with this family tree.

That’s what Matthew is saying with Jesus’ genealogy.

He’s saying that Jesus is going to realize all of God’s promises, reign over all of God’s kingdom, and rescue all of God’s people who repent and put their faith in Him.

He did it by dying on the Cross and then walking out of His tomb.

Jesus is the Christ.

And so may He get the glory.